Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer is a public champion of tenants' rights, but his bid to become New York's first Puerto Rican mayor is being bolstered by real estate money–more than $160,000 worth.
A City Limits analysis of Ferrer's campaign finance filings shows that the BP has taken $20,000 from PAC's associated with the city's top landlord lobbying group since 1994. Other real estate interests–from individual landlords, developers, management companies and real estate-related law firms–chipped in $140,000 to Ferrer in the year ending January 15, 1997.
In all, Ferrer raised a total of about $1.1 million in that period.
Despite taking the contributions, Ferrer has said he supports the extension of rent control and rent stabilization and has blasted Republicans in the state senate for threatening to block renewal of rent regulations in Albany this spring. The BP's campaign office did not return phone calls, but in a statement faxed to City Limits, Ferrer labeled senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno's plan to annihilate rent regulations as “irresponsible in the extreme.”
But Ferrer has supported a measure opposed by many tenant organizations that would require tenants to deposit unpaid rent in an escrow account as a condition of having their cases heard in housing court. The city's top landlord lobbying group, the Rent Stabilization Association, has long pushed the measure. The RSA's chief, Joe Strasburg, is a close friend of Ferrer's.
According to state filings, PACs associated with RSA have not given funds to any other likely Democratic mayoral challenger.
The vast majority of Ferrer's real estate money came from independent companies, most headquartered outside of the Bronx, which has the lowest per capita income of any city borough. The largest lump–$17,500–came from a quartet of management companies headquartered in Great Neck, Long Island, at the address of Boulevard Realty Corp. And in a textbook case of bundling, nearly $10,000 came from 20 different lawyers and the corporate coffers of the law firm of Borah Goldstein Altschuler Schwartz–one of the city's most prominent real estate law firms.